Survey Results: What are all those people around me experiencing?

Last week, I posted a survey to try to get an idea of how prevalent mental health difficulties are, and to try to gain some insight into what the people around us are experiencing. 67 people responded—which, for the first time I’ve done this, I’m pretty excited about! The majority of those responses came from the US, but there were also three from Canada, three from France, one from Hong Kong, and one from Indonesia.

I imagine the blog and the survey were probably more likely to pique the interest of individuals with or with a connection to mental health difficulties, so we can’t say the results are a perfect representation of what’s out there. Still, I think it’s interesting and enlightening to see the results!

Question 1: Which of the following have you experienced? (You’ve been told by a doctor OR you just suspect that you do)

Wow, depression (68.7% of respondents) and anxiety (65.7%) were definitely the most common here! This was followed by panic attacks (29.9%) and suicidal feelings (28.4%). The least common three were schizophrenia, with 0% (the generator I used didn’t even include it on the graph) personality disorders (3%) and bipolar disorder (6%)—though “none of the above” wasn’t very common, either, at 9% of respondents.

Question 2: Do you know anyone (besides yourself) who has…

“Other” response: Brain injury

Anxiety and depression where the highest again, with 89.6% of respondents knowing someone with depression, and 91% knowing someone with anxiety. The next biggest group of responses included ADHD (76.6%), panic attacks (71.6%), and addiction (62.7%). We had just one write-in response: brain injury. Besides this, the bottom three—the least common for a respondent to know someone with—were “none of the above” (3%), dissociation (14.9%), and schizophrenia (23.9%).

It’s interesting to see that the two sets of responses don’t necessarily match up perfectly. I wonder if some of this is because some disorders are just more visible than others, whether because drug advertising and public health campaigns raise awareness, or whether it’s just things like it can be easier to identify a child who has very active ADHD than someone who’s having silent thoughts of suicide. Whatever the reason for the pattern of responses, it definitely shows that mental health struggles are very real and very prevalent.

I took a look at the results of the first two questions to see if people who checked more boxes on question #1 also checked more on #2, but there wasn’t any significant relationship.

Question 3: Which of the following do you experience every day or almost every day?

“Other” responses: Brain fog, grief, insomnia, nausea, and “all of the above”

What’s the most common? Stress! 67.2% of respondents reported feeling stress on a daily basis, closely followed by fatigue at 62.7%. I posted the other day about how I was reading recently that stress is all sorts of bad for you—yet it’s something that’s super common!

I was kind of glad to see that happiness is also up there, though, at 56.7%. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the top ones. Speaking personally, I feel like this isn’t something I necessarily experience daily…and it does look like about half of you agree with me. I try to remind myself to recognize and savor happy moments, and it was one of my New Year’s goals to focus on happiness. I posted the other day a little about this. I want to keep working on it, and to keep posting about what I find useful (with the hope it will be useful for someone else, too). We should all be able to feel some happiness every day, shouldn’t we? It might just take a little extra work and focus.

Overall, though, going through the results, I felt bad! My heart went out to you. It made me think about how much we don’t talk about, and about how someone can be suffering with something pretty major that the rest of us don’t even realize. I hope we get better at talking, and that as we do, we can help each other do better.

I was so excited that people responded to this survey, and I hope the results are interesting and useful to you. But I have a whole bunch more questions! My goal is to put out a survey each week, with the results for you the following week.

So here’s the topic for this week’s survey:

As I’ve been writing about mental health, I’ve been thinking about how there are so many terms for talking about it, terms like, “mental health,” “psychiatric patient,” “mentally ill,” “impaired,”—you get the idea. Even though I am very much a part of the group that these terms apply to, I find myself trying to be delicate about the terms I use to talk about it, and trying not to offend anyone! What terms should I use? How should we talk about it? What terms are not okay? This survey quickly goes through several terms and asks you to mark how you feel about them. I hope together we can come up with an acceptable terminology. Come back next week for the results.

Now go take that survey (click here).

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